Kids with well-developed leadership skills are more confident and responsible and push themselves to their full potential.
Leadership helps them develop better and more creative coping skills in problem-solving and project management. The art of compromise, empathy, and good decision making skills, things most parents strive to teach their children, are also important benefits of having well-developed leadership skills. For some children, leadership comes naturally; for others, it must be developed and encouraged. Either way, parents can help develop their child’s leadership qualities so that when they are ready to attend college and enter the workforce, leading others and knowing when to follow someone else’s lead is already second nature.
Set an example
Parents can help their kids develop good leadership by showing them what a good leader looks like daily. When you lead others, including your children, try to be optimistic, a good listener, treat people fairly and do the right thing. Your kids will learn these skills simply by modeling your good example.
Set them up for success
Kids who are successful at what they try are more confident and more willing to get out of their comfort zone and help others in the future. You can do this by encouraging them to try activities where they have natural strengths and talent or assist them in projects just enough to help them succeed while still allowing them the majority of the decision and work the project entails.
Build communication skills
Listening and good communication are keys to making a leader successful and well-liked by peers. Encourage your child to put their communication skills into practice by developing listening skills, public speaking, and expressing their frustrations in a healthy way. Parents can do this by asking their children to order their food at a restaurant, encouraging them to approach coaches or teachers when there is a problem, and teaching them to ask questions after listening to a friend talk.
Be a team player
School projects, team sports, clubs, or being a part of a band, orchestra, or choir helps kids understand how to work towards a goal as a group. These experiences help your child understand how to be a good leader when to listen to others, and why both are equally important.
Encourage lifelong skills
Integrity, empathy, work ethic, respect, negotiation, and compromise are excellent skills for any leader, as well as any student, employee, or friend. You can encourage these skills by setting a good example and talking through situations where they were or were not utilized well. Ask your child how they would have handled this differently and why. Praise them when they have used these skills well and encourage them when needed.
Show them the value of diversity
There is great value in diversity. Everyone has different backgrounds, experiences, and gifts. Encourage your kids to learn about other cultures and experience, and that differences make us a stronger team. They can learn to stand up to those who are singled out or viewed as different. This is what makes a great leader.
Ask for help
Kids who know when to solve problems and when to ask for guidance are better teammates and stronger leaders. It’s also essential to help others in the group who may be struggling. Lead by example and be encouraging and helpful when needed.
Develop good work habits
Kids who have responsibilities at a young age are better prepared to lead others. Encourage your child to get a part-time job at a young age or pick up jobs like yard work, babysitting, or volunteer work so they can build their leadership skills, develop their work ethic, and get experience in a variety of areas.
When your child has a large project to complete, encourage them to map out their plan for completing it on time. Create steps and set goals to accomplish to meet the deadline. Good project management skills will serve them well as a future leader and employee.
As your child develops strong leadership skills, it’s important to understand that they will not always be the person in charge. Having good leadership skills doesn’t mean you are always the one who is leading. Being respectful and willing to listen to others and compromise while not officially being the person who is “in charge” of the group is still a way to lead others. Whether your child is a natural leader or a great teammate, these leadership skills will serve them well in the future.
Sarah Lyons is a mom of six, including triplets. She enjoys writing, reading, and spending time outside with her kids.
Extracurricular Activities that Build Leadership Skills
Being part of a team helps build leadership and helps kids learn to work as a group and understand the art of leading and following others.
Being part of student council or government helps kids learn to lead and build speaking and negotiating skills.
Start your own club
If your child is interested in something specific, chances are others their age are as well. Starting their own club is a great way to learn how to lead others and share common interests.
Giving your time helps kids put others first, work on a project for the greater good, develop a good work ethic, and build leadership skills.
Academic teams or clubs
Being part of an academic team or clubs such as robotics, mathletes, speech and debate, National Honors Society, and science club are great ways to build skills in areas that interest them but also give them leadership skills they can use in college and the workforce.
Music and arts
Not everyone is drawn to team sports, but being part of a choir, orchestra, band, theater, or working on a creative project as a group can have the same benefits as team sports do when it comes to leadership skills.
Groups like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts give kids the opportunity to work as a team and individually while helping others and being exposed to diversity, volunteer work, team building, and life skills.